Friday, September 10, 2010

The Music of English Class

Yesterday morning I started my work day by listening to my school’s middle school chorus singing with rousing exuberance, and it inspired me to wish there was singing of some sort in my English classes – but then I realized that, in fact, there is.  The kids in the chorus were singing so well that it shook me a little, standing there on the third day of school – shook me to see students giving their all to something as simple as making music. There wasn’t anything fancy about it, nothing spectacular or especially polished – simply teenagers telling their music teacher, and me, that singing, at least on some mornings, was made just for them.  As I watched and listened, I started to see that a similar kind of singing, if I can call it that, sometimes happens in my classes. Can’t earnest and  occasionally deep discussions about books be seen as a kind of singing?  It’s not music like the kids in the chorus make, but it’s surely music to my ears to hear teenagers telling each other the feelings that flow through their young hearts, feelings that sometimes rise to the surface in our literary discussions. And isn’t the nimble and harmonious writing that young people occasionally produce – the sentences in their essays that sometimes sing with youthful zeal when I read them, and the paragraphs that can croon and hum with the coolest adolescent wisdom – isn’t this a kind of music?  Passersby wouldn’t hear songs from musicals and movies making their way out of my classroom, but, if they’re listening with their hearts, they might hear the songs that written and spoken words sometimes sing.      

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